Thursday, July 15, 2010
Shakespeare In The Park
You must know that being a avid New York fan, the event that I so look forward to every year is the annual Shakespeare In The Park performance. Every summer, the Public Theater puts on 2 plays, usually by Shakespeare but not always, that are performed in the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Part of the reason I go is because I enjoy watching the play but it is also because it is a New York experience that you give up a pound of flesh and a deal of wonder to get these free tickets. Yet, I always go. This year, the repertoire included The Merchant of Venice and the role of Shylock is performed by Al Pacino. If New York is my city, Al Pacino is my actor. I absolutely have to go. Last time I went to the play in the park, I saw Hair (see post of August 5, 2008). While the play is the thing, the wait on line (not internet online, physically sitting on a line) before copping the tickets can actually amount to a pleasant way to spend 6 hours (weather permitting). You meet people, like you, that have sacrificed sleep, their morning and the rest of the day to do this. Once you take your place, if you have planned your day right, your time is productive and well spent. You read all those periodicals and news articles that were piling up, you take a nap and talk to your line neighbors about other NY events. I look around at the people walking or jogging through the park who look at me and my line mates not understanding the determination. I look back wondering why they aren't at work. This year, since the show was enhanced with a star, the line was longer and started earlier. Central Park doesn't open until 6 am so, thinking I was safe to leave the house at 5 am, I arrived to find the line started outside the park entrance of 82nd Street and went for about 6 blocks. Unfettered, I took my place and entered the park along with everyone else and found myself further away than I had ever been. The line monitor (security guy) pointed out, however that we were in front of the "Rock of Hope", where those in front of this point had a chance of getting tickets. I had already taken the day off, had all my reading material and my comfy sand chair with me. I took the chance and stayed. So did everyone else. Alas, things have changed since Hair. Taking a break from my spot, I walked up to the beginning of the line to see who occupied the "sure to get tickets". Strangely, they didn't look like the usual sleepy eyed, rumply clothed theater goers I typically saw. In fact, I questioning whether they really were here for the play or if they thought this was the line for a soup kitchen. A distinct odor of unsanitary sorts permeated the air as I passed them and one of them looked like this: Even with my liberal, somewhat Pollyanna attitude, I knew, this guy couldn't be here for Shakespeare or Pacino. No. I found out he was one of 10 homeless men hired by what you could call a manager of sorts to wait in line, and get tickets that the manager then sells for a couple of hundred dollars. They slept outside the park (which is what they do most nights anyway), got their tickets and received a percentage of the sale from the manager. Well it is now 1 pm and the distribution of tickets starts. My neighbors and I know it will be close but we rubbed the Rock of Hope wishing it had the magical powers to help us. We get close. We can't believe they are still giving out tickets. We start to believe and then are stopped. It is over, the monitor announces there are no more tickets. I am deflated - and then realize, we were just 10 people away.